Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, now in his eighteenth year in international cricket says, ''I still play... because I still love the game.'' ''I would like to clarify this. It's not about records. It's about loving the game and enjoying being out there in the middle.
That is extremely special to me and far bigger than breaking records or creating new ones."
''Creating records happens after you've gone on the cricket field, but you've got to find a reason to go on the cricket field, and for me the reason is very clear,'' was quoted as saying by The Times.
The 'Master Blaster' already has multiple records like highest Test and ODI centuries to his credit as well as the highest runs in ODI cricket in his name. He only requires six more runs to overtake Steve Waugh to come to the third position in the list of all time highest run scorers in Test cricket.
''From the age of three I've loved this sport and I've never thought about scoring the most number of centuries or runs in international cricket. Everyone enjoys breaking records, I'm enjoying it too, but that is not the reason for playing cricket.''
On what keeps him going even after almost two decades of playing, Sachin said ''When I started playing, I always wanted to be regarded as one of the best and the idea was that when I stopped playing, people would remember my name. Being regarded as one of the best players is always a good feeling, and that drives you, it refuels you completely. You want to be on top of your game all the time and push yourself harder and harder. There is a huge responsibility and it is a great challenge. I love that,'' he added.
Though he knows the mood of one billion people depends on how the Indian team performs on the field, he remains unintimidated.
''So many people are watching you, so many people backing you all the time.'' ''The mood in the evening after a game (among the Indian public) depends on what you do. If you don't perform well, people are upset and feel low. If you do well, along with other players, the whole nation is on a high and that is a great feeling. When you've done well, the team has won, it's a special feeling.''
''To be honest, I don't think about all these things when I'm going in to bat, because when you go in to bat you've just got to be watching the ball. You must think about the game and not anything else. I try to work on that,'' he replies.
The perennial crowd-favourite cannot move around anywhere in the country without being mobbed by his fans, but he has learnt to live this way.
''It has become a kind of lifestyle for me. From the age of 16 I couldn't move around freely. Now I'm 34, so it is kind of a routine for me. We've got a few spots nobody knows about and that is quite nice. Spending time with my family helps me to recharge the batteries,'' he added.
About his preparations for the upcoming series against England, he said, ''I study all bowlers quite closely and have my own ways of working things out, but you always have to be on your toes. Whether it is Steve Harmison or Alastair Cook bowling, it just needs one good ball to get you out, and by the time you've realised it, it can be too late. It is all about planning. If you can out-think them, you've done a good job.''
About his future and goals, he says, ''I have no regrets, absolutely none. I am a positive person, I like to have good memories, learn from my mistakes and move forward.''